17 June 2005

Zimbabwe: Bishops Issue Pastoral Letter

Harare — Churches in troubled Zimbabwe have scheduled days of prayer and reflection, as the Catholic bishops in the southern African country issued a Pastoral Letter, The Cry of the Poor, condemning ongoing demolitions.

An Ecumenical meeting held at the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops' Conference (ZCBC) offices in Harare on June 16, 2005 proposed that two announcements be made in all Churches on Sunday June 19, 2005 that:

1. Priests and Pastors meet in their Fraternities at a selected venue for prayers and reflection on the current events in our country on Thursday, June 23, 2005.

(The venue for Harare is the Catholic Cathedral from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon. Other cities and regions can announce their own venues, times and the day, if different.)

2. Prayers be offered for the whole nation by all congregations on Sunday June 26, 2005 in all churches, and a reflection read or given along the lines appearing in the latest Pastoral Letter of the ZCBC, The Cry of the Poor, emphasizing human dignity, human rights and respect for all regardless of social status.

The Pastoral Lettert -whose full text appears in a separate dispatch from CISA- says in part:

"Any claim to justify this operation in view of a desired orderly end becomes totally groundless in view of the cruel and inhumane means that have been used. People have a right to shelter and that has been deliberately destroyed in this operation without much warning. While we all desire orderliness, alternative accommodation and sources of income should have been identified and provided before the demolitions and stoppage of informal trading. We condemn the gross injustice done to the poor."

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